The penultimate episode is an interlude between the main story and (hopefully) the big blow up of the finale. In it, we find out that Native Americans are – guess what – just like Normal Americans. We leave Heidi and Eric (and “those faces with their stupid little mouths”) behind and find Jaye, Sharon and Mahandra driving up to an Indian reservation (presumably the mating birds have left Sharon’s car). Mahandra, for no discernible reason, wants to capitalize on the 1/8th of her that is Native American and join the Satsuma Indian Nation. Perhaps she wants to sell on the cheap ciggies in the Barrel bar. Anyway, Jaye, encouraged by Cliff Richard disguised as a totem pole, enters a wigwam and communes with the dead. This leads her to once again try to get rid of her burden of hearing talking animals (“No purpose is a lot easier”). Her methods are a bit peculiar – does she really think persuading Bill to become the tribal leader is going to enable him to talk with his dead grandmother about her? The animals would hardly lead her on a path that would enable her to free herself from them. She should have learned by now that she’s not cleverer than them!
For a few moments, I thought that Aaron would be right and Jaye would become the new spiritual leader; it would solve the Eric problem and get Jaye out of the retail world as well as giving her a sense of purpose, connection with people (the animals’ raison d’être?) and community, even if that community isn’t strictly her own. But it was not to be. After some shenanigans with a bracelet, the maid of the mist/sauna, looking a little like Chain Reaction era Diana Ross, stepped out with newly frizzed hair and a vision from the afterlife of casinos and gambling houses. The right-on bitch had become Fate’s Bitch.
Like the Buffy episode “Pangs”, this ep seemed determined to ridicule Native American PC-ness - Littlefoot the lawyer getting her University mascot, a beaver, banned from campus, phrases like ‘bury the hatchet’ becoming “racial slurs”, Sharon quickly correcting her mistake: ‘Indian’ to ‘Native’ whilst trying to get cheap packs of cigarettes, Bill’s sit-in at the Wonderfalls store to protest against the Maid Of The Mist myth and “racist paraphernalia” toys, the rainbow teddy bear (one of the few things that doesn’t talk to Jaye) being representative of all people AND gay-friendly – all of these things are portrayed as faintly ridiculous. The Indians who live on the res. seem happy with capitalism, it’s the newcomers, Bill and Deana who are the Native American hardliners. The tall, calm, wise Amerindian points out that a lesson his people have learnt time and time again is that you should always pause before you give something up. Is the ‘something’ in this case the opportunity to make money from casinos, gambling and Vegas-style slots? In any case, in the end, it wasn’t a Native who had to “surrender to destiny”, but Jaye. Just like St Paul, Gandhi, Neo…
Sharon was great in this episode; her presence made up for the lack of eyebrow-wiggling between Aaron and Mahandra. From her huffing on the treadmill to her competitive streak going overboard and for the first time failing, to her panic that she’d inadvertently killed Littlefoot and urging the handyman to “pry, man pry!” the sauna door open, she was the epitome of When Overachievers Go Wrong. A pity Jaye didn’t find out anything new about her gift, but maybe all will be revealed next week….